Narrator: Jesse Bernstein, Paula Christensen
Series: Newsflesh #1
Published by Hachette Audio on May 1st, 2010
Genres: Adult, Horror, Thriller, Zombies
Length: 15 hrs and 10 mins
The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop.
The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED. Now, twenty years after the Rising, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives - the dark conspiracy behind the infected.
The truth will get out, even if it kills them.
I’ll be the first to admit that zombies are just not my thing. But Feed came into my life when Christina gifted me the box set with the promise that the blogging/politics/Newsroom-like aspects would probably win me over. And, well, they DID. Feed is an incredibly intriguing and realistic political thriller involving a zombie outbreak. Though it’s lengthy, there’s so much to love. I didn’t even have any nightmares! Winning on all fronts!
First off, I should note that this review is of the audiobook, which I purchased after running out of time to finish the book in print. But the audiobook is fantastic. The narrator, Paula Christensen, captures George’s voice perfectly, and keeps the story going at exactly the right pace. Jesse Bernstein narrates the male POV parts/blog posts, and he is the perfect Shaun. I was sucked into this audiobook from the very start and didn’t lose track even once. It made the heartbreaking points of the novel EVEN more emotional. I highly recommend it to all audiobook fans!
But okay, Feed follows George and Shaun, a sister and brother pair of bloggers who are living in the post-Rising United States. I didn’t really know what I was getting into, because this is my first zombie book, but woah. The world building is frighteningly realistic. The zombies actually came about through a virus that was an accidental mutation of what should have been the cure to the common cold. All humans have some form of the virus, but they need to be triggered to reawaken as zombies through Amplification, which comes either by coming into contact with live strains of the virus (i.e. by a zombie bite or even just zombie blood spatter) or dying. In all the details, you can tell that Mira Grant did her research. The medical stuff was easy to understand and easy to imagine, the public reactions to the Rising were careful and realistic. But at the same time, life goes on in this nation. They improvise and reinforce security in as many cities and neighborhoods as possible, checking scrupulously with blood tests for any signs of infection. I was amazed by all the details and realism.
George and Shaun are bloggers, which is an immediate win. They are very different though. Bloggers in this world are divided in more or less three types: Newsies (like George, who, like their name implies, cover the factual news), Irwins (like Shaun, who go for the more sensational action-based news), and Fictionals (like Buffy, their partner, who create stories and poetry about the zombie outbreak). But the team quickly gets swept up in the presidential campaign of Republican Senator Peter Ryman. So there’s a lot of political scheming as well, including some mystery and sleuthing, in addition to discussions about journalistic ethics and integrity. All that Christina told me about the comparisons to The Newsroom, my favorite TV show ever, was on point. This is way different than what I usually read, but the discussions about politics and journalistic integrity are fascinating to me.
Now, hows about those zombies? Yeah, they are scary. But it’s not excessively bloody or gory. It’s not like they’re fighting them every page of the 600 page book anyway. There are some encounters, which gave me some chills, but there were no nightmares involved. I was more scared for the characters than I was scared of the zombies, so for me, this was perfect. And the mystery/conspiracy that comes with them is pitch perfect. The plot thickens. And thickens. And thickens.
And I gotta give extra praise to the bond between George and Shaun. I think they probably have the best sibling relationship that I’ve ever read. Through everything, including George’s retinal Kellis-Amberlee, Shaun’s recklessness, the utter hypocrisy of their parents, and the frightening messes they get into, those two always stand by each other. The feels. The sibling feeeeeeels. They’re such different characters but they complement each other so well and I just love it.
The ending was just WOAH. WHAT EVEN. Talk about one of the biggest plot twists EVER. And it was heartbreaking – SO EMOTIONAL. I almost had tears in my eyes as my whole body tensed up in pure agony. Mira Grant sure knows how to keep you on the edge of your seat. However, ultimately plot-wise I was a tiny bit let down at the very end because so little about this government conspiracy was figured out. View Spoiler »It was obvious to me from the start that Tate would be involved, so that didn’t shock me, and for the rest they didn’t really discover much. Was that worth dying for? « Hide Spoiler I dunno. It felt like we didn’t get that far in uncovering what’s really going on. I guess that’s what the rest of the series is for, but I suppose I expected a bit more from a 600 page monster of a book.